Excessive beta activity has been shown in local field potential recordings from the cortico-basal ganglia loop of Parkinson's disease patients and in its various animal models. Recent evidence suggests that enhanced beta oscillations may play a central role in the pathophysiology of the disorder and that beta activity may be directly linked to the motor impairment. However, the temporal evolution of exaggerated beta oscillations during the ongoing dopaminergic neurodegeneration and its relation to the motor impairment and histological changes are still unknown. We investigated motor behavioral, in-vivo electrophysiological (subthalamic nucleus, motor cortex) and histological changes (striatum, substantia nigra compacta) 2, 5, 10 and 20-30 days after a 6-hydroxydopamine injection into the medial forebrain bundle in Wistar rats. We found strong correlations between subthalamic beta power and motor impairment. No correlation was found for beta power in the primary motor cortex. Only subthalamic but not cortical beta power was strongly correlated with the histological markers of the dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Significantly increased subthalamic beta oscillations could be detected before this increase was found in primary motor cortex. At the latest observation time point, a significantly higher percentage of long beta bursts was found. Our study is the first to show a strong relation between subthalamic beta power and the dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Thus, we provide additional evidence for an important pathophysiological role of subthalamic beta oscillations and prolonged beta bursts in Parkinson's disease.
Keywords: Basal ganglia; Beta oscillations; Neurodegeneration; Parkinson's disease.
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